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Safety Tips for Holidays


CHOCOLATE:  Chocolate in all forms, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be very toxic to pets.  It's ingestion may not cause any adverse effects but in sufficient quantities, chocolate can affect your pet's gastrointestinal system and heart rate and can actually lead to coma and death.  Keep that treat bowl out of reach and make sure to secure your own candy in a safe place.   

ARTIFICIAL SWEETENER/XYLITOL:  Candy or gum containing xylitol is extremely toxic to pets. Just a small amount can cause extreme changes in blood sugar levels and damage to your pet's liver which could lead to death. 

CANDY:  Candy wrappers, sticks from lollipops and paper inserts are not toxic but can cause problems by blocking the digestion system which could require surgery to remove the blockage. 

PUMPKINS & INDIAN CORN:  These are not toxic if eaten but can possibly cause gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. 

CANDLES:  Candles may cause the curious pet to get burned if they investigate the flames.   

COSTUMES:  Costumes of strange "creatures" coming to your door may frighten some pets.  You may want to secure them in another room or crate while the festivities are going on to keep them from getting stressed.  Your pet may even try to run out the door when trick-or-treaters come and could get lost or injured.  If you dress your pet, make sure their costumes fit and don't obscure vision, breathing, or movement to be safe.


BEWARE of BONES:  Never feed any sort of bones (raw or cooked) to your pet.  Bird bones are hollow and splinter easily when chewed and can be caught in the pet's throat causing a choking hazard.  Bones can also get caught in or puncture your pet's stomach or intestines which may require emergency surgery.

TAKE IT EASY WITH TABLE SCRAPS:  It seems like one or two scraps won't do any harm, right?  Wrong.  Some of the ingredients in a Thanksgiving feast could be toxic to your pet, including onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol. Seasonings, especially sage, and spices can also have a negative effect on your pets digestion and severely depress their nervous system.  Feeding foods not usually in your pet's diet can cause severe diarrhea and/or vomiting due to stomach upset and in severe cases trigger pancreatitis, which could be fatal. To be safe, don't give pets any foods they don't usually eat.

DON'T INDULGE YOUR PET WITH DESSERT:  The last thing your pet needs are sugar and fats.  Sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes. Pumpkin in it's pure form is okay for your pet to eat but when the spices, eggs and other ingredients are added, it can cause digestive issues.  Chocolate and artificial sweeteners, especially xylitol, can be toxic to pets.

CHECK AROUND YOU WHILE YOU ARE COOKING:  Sometimes your pet near your feet can create a disaster when carrying a platter of food.  Also, hot pots could burn them.  Your best bet is to keep all your pets out of the kitchen and away from the busy holiday stir.

KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR OTHER HAZARDS:  Toothpicks from appetizers, skewers for holding the turkey together while roasting, and decorations are just a few random hazards that most people don't think to watch out for but which could be harmful to your pets.

YOU KNOW YOUR PET BEST WHEN STRANGERS ARE AROUND:  Family and friends often stress a pet out, and if your pet is territorial or unfamiliar with children, it can be dangerous for guests, especially kids who don't know their boundaries. Keep your pet in a separate room or crate him for the duration of your celebration.

FINALLY:  A well-exercised pet, especially a dog, is a less stressed animal.  When your family takes the traditional after-dinner walk, put a leash on your dog and take him along!


We definitely want to include our furry companions in the festivities, but as you celebrate this holiday season, try to keep your pet's eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. And be sure to steer them clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.

O CHRISTMAS TREE: Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water (which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset) from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea if he happens to drink it.

TINSEL-LESS TOWN: Cats love this sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

NO FEASTING FOR THE FURRIES:  Feeding foods not usually in your pet's diet can cause severe diarrhea and/or vomiting due to stomach upset and in severe cases trigger pancreatitis which could be fatal. To be safe, don't give pets any foods they don't usually eat.  Do not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol.  Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans. 

TOY JOY:  Looking to stuff your pet's stockings?  Choose gifts that are safe.  Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods, or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible.  With cats, long stringy things are a feline's dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that if swallowed can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery.  Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer and tons of play sessions together.

FORGET THE MISTLETOE AND HOLLY:  Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems.  Many varieties of lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. The sap ofPoinsettia plants can be mildly toxic/irritating, and will probably cause nausea or vomiting, but not death.  It is better to err on the side of caution, though, and keep pets away. Artificial plants made from silk or plastic can be chewed and ingested which can also cause upset or blockage.

LEAVE THE LEFTOVERS:  Fatty, spicy and human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends.  Diarrhea, vomiting and pancreatitis can result and could lead to costly medical bills.

THAT HOLIDAY GLOW:  Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach.  A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth and digestive tract.  Don't leave lighted candles unattended.  Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over.  Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. 

CAREFUL WITH COCKTAILS:  If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them.  If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A ROOM OF THEIR OWN:  Your pet may not feel comfortable with the house full of friends and guests they might not know.  Give your pet his own quiet space to which to retreat, complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle away from the hubbub.

NEW YEAR'S NOISE:  As you count down to the New Year, please keep in mind that the noise and commotion may terrify pets.  Be sure to take precautions to keep your pet from getting too stressed.